Of the performance, our testers said: “From a standstill to 60mph takes the Pony 13.3sec, achieved with considerable tramping from the front wheels and gritting of teeth from the driver, for the engine becomes very noisy and quite harsh when revved hard, which for many drivers would discourage brisk motoring. Nevertheless, cruising is reasonably relaxed at the legal limit.”
While outright flexibility wasn’t bad – 30-50mph in fourth gear took 11.8sec, quite competitive by class standards – in practice you had to use lots of revs as well as lots of throttle to make real progress.
“Inevitably, fuel economy suffers,” we said. “The test car achieved an overall 28.8mpg in our hands, which is below par. The touring fuel consumption of 37.1mpg, too, is unexceptional, giving a modest range of 326 miles from the 40-litre (8.8-gallon) tank.
“The gearchange is not as good as its Japanese heritage might suggest. Once the gearbox oil has warmed up, the change is easy enough, but it remains a little notchy and smooth progress isn’t helped by a clutch with an abrupt, over-centre action.”
Our testers deemed the Pony a long way behind European rivals when it came to dynamic prowess: “This is not a car designed to attract the enthusiastic driver, so the chosen handling balance is an understandable decision. It has the merit of being completely failsafe, with understeer building up rapidly as the modest grip limits approached. Lift off halfway round a bend and the Pony will do little except scrub off speed and allow the driver to tighten the line with the steering if necessary.
“This inert behaviour is reflected in the steering, which has rubbery responses and lacks feel around the straight-ahead position. Weighting, however, is fine on the move but heavy at parking speeds.”
However, the ride at higher speeds became “choppy, with a restless vertical bounce on anything but billiard-table surfaces”, although “in the suspension’s favour is that it is quiet in operation and isolates road noise effectively”.
Our testers praised the cabin: “The seats are soft but adequately supportive, the driving position is comfortable with all controls within easy reach, and there’s a good view both fore and aft.”
We concluded: “At its attractive price, the well-built Hyundai makes a lot of sense for the motorist who asks no more than to have simple, no-frills transport. But for the driver who looks to a car to provide a measure of driving pleasure over and above the driving function, the search is better directed towards a more sophisticated European supermini.”
Previous Throwback Thursdays
18 October 1989 - VW's vision of a 21st century Golf
2 April 1986 - Figuring the MG Metro 6R4 rally car
10 March 1979 - A Rover SD1 with a difference
4 September 1996 - The original Porsche Boxster driven
5 April 1986 - Audi Quattro vs Porsche 944 Turbo
16 May 1987 - Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet
17 October 1981 - The £12,000 baby Aston Martin
16 January 1985 - The launch of the Sinclair C5
15 April 1960 - Porsche's four-cylinder roots
17 August 2004 - The Honda NSX's last hurrah
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